'Vettel' of the week. Biggest sports jerk of the week. Donald Trump of world sport. These are some of the 'honorifics' bestowed on Virat Kohli by the Australian media Not many cricketers in the world have managed to get under the skin of the Aussie media, the way the Indian cricket captain has.
From the day he set foot on Australian soil in 2011, Kohli has never shied away from a challenge. Even the crowd got a taste of their own medicine when he flipped the bird at them in the 2012 Sydney Test after being constantly annoyed by a section of the crowd. Not just on the field, in press conferences, too, Kohli has a penchant for speaking his mind without mincing any words. If, in 2014, he shocked the media by saying he has no reason to respect some Australian cricketers, in 2017, after the second Test in Bengaluru, he pointedly blamed the Australian team for not upholding the spirit of the game.
His statements have always resulted in a backlash from not only the Australian team but also from the Aussie media. The latest salvo came when Daily Telegraph termed Kohli the “Donald Trump of world sport”. The article expressed disgust at the ICC and the BCCI for failing to rein in Kohli who was spreading “fake news” about the Australian team, referring to Kohli's claim that he had seen Aussie players looking at the dressing room for guidance with decision review system (DRS).
Kohli also had a go at his counterpart Steve Smith and David Warner after their teammate Glenn Maxwell mocked Kohli's shoulder injury earlier on the field. “The Indian captain is a law unto himself with no one—not even the ICC or his own board—holding him accountable for his continual perpetuation of fake news... Soft cricketing administrators have given rise to a bat-wielding Trump,” the article said.
The critical comments drew a strong response from Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who took to Twitter to put his point across.
Allegations have been flying thick and fast between the two teams. While Kohli accused some Australian players of taunting Indian team physio Patrick Farhart, Daily Telegraph claimed that Kohli tossed an energy drink bottle, which ended up hurting an Australian team official. The report also said that coach Anil Kumble had stormed into the umpire’s room to seek an explanation for Kohli’s controversial leg-before-wicket dismissal in the Bengaluru Test.
In January, Kohli was voted the “biggest sports jerk of the week” in an online poll conducted by news.com.au. Fox Sports Australia, too, took cue from them, nominating Kohli for the ‘Vettel of the Week’ award in which his picture was put up with other animals in a collage. 'Vettel' is a slang for sports villain.
Daily Telegraph was at it again when it took a dig at Kohli over the “doctoring” of the pitch for the third Test match at Ranchi.
With the Australian media taking it upon themselves to sledge the Indian captain, it seems the former is indeed an “extension of their cricket team's support staff”, as Indian batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar described it.